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Showing 1-10 of 109 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 166 reviews
TOP 100 REVIEWERon April 9, 2016
It was easy to identify with the people Dan Barry describes throughout his book, although the superb writing certainly pulls the readers into the story and urges us to continue reading all the way through the ending credits. As one who spent hundreds of hours with a ball, listening to it "whop, whop, whop" off the side of the house, I could identify with the dreams of the various players on both the Rochester and Pawtucket teams.
Barry's storytelling is incredible, and he weaves stories of the major and minor characters in and out of the tale of two teams that could not find a way to end the game being played. Along the way we learn tidbits of information about those players who eventually ended up in the major leagues as well as what happened to the majority of those who didn't.
Excellent story, recommended for baseball fans as well as for those who just enjoy reading a story that is well told.
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on December 31, 2016
Say the title of this book to any veteran baseball fan, and he or she will know exactly what's covered.

In 1981, the Rochester Red Wings and Pawtucket Red Sox started playing baseball one chilly April night. The problem was that they just couldn't stop. The game went on , and on, and on, through 32 innings and until 4 a.m., and there still hadn't been a winner. It eventually was suspended and finished later in the season.

There's been only one "bottom of the 33rd inning" in organized baseball history, since it was the longest game ever played. Thus, Dan Barry's book of that title covers that game. What's more, it's difficult to think that a book on this particular subject could have been done that much better.

Barry reveals plenty of interesting details about the game, which started on April 18. The International League usually had a curfew that instructed umpires not to begin an inning after 12:50 a.m. However, a typographical error in the league's rules for that season somehow omitted that little rule. So the umpires felt obligated to keep playing.

And play they did, until 4 a.m. when the game was finally suspended after a frantic call to the league president was finally returned. It takes a while for Barry's story to get moving, but that actually works well because the game becomes much more dramatic as it goes along and thus the story benefits from the set-up work. The author takes it inning by inning to a certain extent, although he doesn't get bogged down in the details of most of the "action."

When the game starts to drag on well into double digits, the funhouse effect begins in earnest. The parents of the bat boy wonder why their son isn't home from the game yet. Friends of fans and others at the game call the police to ask if there had been an accident. Players wonder if there is any way out of the "Groundhog Day" of a baseball game, in which the idea that a game can go on toward infinity without a winner being decided actually seems to be taking place. And how about Luis Aponte of Pawtucket, who went home after a long pitching stint, only to have his wife slam the door in his face because she didn't believe a game could be going on so late?

It's funny to consider, but Barry didn't have that many people who needed to be interviewed in hindsight. There were the players, of course, and the umpires, and journalists, and front office workers. Most of the fans left, so that by the bottom of the 32nd the number of people in the stands watching was down to a couple of dozen or so.

Barry also takes the time to fill out the backstories of the participants. You know what happened to Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken, but most minor leaguers never make it to the majors for very long if at all. Their stories take surprising turns, particularly in the case of the player who finally ended the game when it was picked up again in June. It's particularly true if you had a routing interest in either the Red Sox or Orioles from way back then, as the names will be familar. Who knew Win Remmerswaal was such a memoriable character? Barry also covers the city of Pawtucket and the Triple-A baseball team nicely.

The author's only misstep is trying to be a little too stylish at times at the beginning of the book. But once he hits his stride, "Bottom of the 33rd" rolls into a true page-turner -- even though we know where the story is headed. It was voted as one of the best baseball books of the year when it came out, and it's easy to see why.
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on August 30, 2013
When one of the greatest sportswriters who ever lived recommended to me Dan Barry's account of the longest baseball game ever played, "Bottom of the 33rd," I thought he was merely hyping the book of a friend and made no effort to run out and buy it. I should have. It is a modern masterpiece.

Nominally it is the story of the 33 inning game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings of the Triple- A International League, the highest minor league level, which began on a blustering cold Easter Eve 1981, and ended on a freezing Easter Sunday. Yet it is so much more.

It is also a history of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, a decaying rust belt mill town. It is a history of the game's setting, McCoy Stadium, built in the Great Depression on a sinkhole as a public works boondoggle to put the city's citizens to work by their powerful mayor, Thomas P. McCoy. It is the story of its Quebec born owner who rescued the franchise, Ben Mondor, a self made millionaire who bought and sold old textile mills and manufactured women's wear fabrics, and who was staunch Catholic in a Catholic city, and possessed a strong sense of Christian charity and obligation.

It is the story of two future Hall of Famers who played all 33 innings, Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken, Jr. It is the story of all the players who never made it to the majors and their long suffering wives who worked part time jobs to support their dreams. It is the story of the teenagers who grew up in Pawtucket and earned their first tiny paychecks working in menial jobs such as doing the laundry of the players, cooking their post game meals of spaghetti and chicken, selling tickets, picking up garbage. It is the story of the two managers, Joe Morgan and Doc Edwards, who spent their lives traveling the small roads and small towns of America to teach the American baseball dream to aspiring players who mostly never made it to the majors.

It is mostly however, a story of Dan Barry's powerful writing. Such as: "The 7th inning has arrived, and Danny Parks has just walked Rochester's lead off batter, Mark Corey, which has led to another walk: that of Park's manager, Joe Morgan, now strolling toward the mound, and not for his health, or to take in the air...Morgan, head down as if prepared to hear a confession, runs a cleat over the mound. Parks, head bowed in contrition, then sweeps a cleat over what Morgan has just swept. Back and forth they go, gardening, muttering, engaged in a slow, self-conscious dance in which partners try not to look each other in the eye."

Who won the game? Good question. Barry saves the answer for the end of the book.

[Hansen Alexander is a New York attorney and author of two introductory law books, "A Tort is Not a Pastry," and "An Introduction to the Laws of the United States in the 21rst Century."]
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on April 30, 2016
Wow! I really enjoyed this book. I'm not a die-hard baseball fan but I do love the game and I do prefer to attend AAA games. The author not only details all the crazy twists and turns in this bizarre game but also does a great job of telling the back stories of everyone involved (like the liquor distributor who pulled their beer concessions at the field and the heavy price they paid...). It becomes very clear, very fast that players working their ways up and down through the league layers have a tough time. They are subject to stresses on and off the field that most of us never consider until we read a story like this. If you like baseball, and if you think the game holds many metaphors to life, you'll love this book. It's extremely well researched and funny as hell.
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Enthusiast: Baseballon February 3, 2015
Excellent book on not just the game itself,which was amazing,but about the lives and characters of all the people that were involved. Barry puts in perfect symmetry the cast involved. From the batboy to the players,managers,coaches,owners and even the ballpark in itself. Everyones success and failures are analyzed and shown how it affects their lives all the way to the end. This isn't purely a baseball book. It's a book about life that has baseball in the background.
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on September 20, 2012
There are a lot of books about baseball and what makes it a cultural and defining icon of the American experience. In this well-researched treatment of one the games historical moments, Dan Barry brings to life the aspirations, grit and real-life drama that accompanies our national pastime.

Personally, this story combines three great passions of mine: great literature, faith and baseball. The writer captures well how a group of triple-A players rise up to an unexpected rendevous with history exploring their determination to succeed, their doubts and in several cases, their future greatness (Cal Ripken, Jr. and Wade Boggs). And it's a story not just about the players - there are the managers, the owners, and the fans just outside an old Pawtucket textile district whose own dreams mirror those being played out on the field.

The record-setting backdrop is the longest game of professional baseball that started one Holy Saturday evening in 1981 and after a endurance-testing 33 innings, ended in the early hours of Easter morning. Baseball novels are rich in metaphors and this one is no exception. Where you may be surprised, and dare I say; touchingly moved, is the strong link the writer makes between the game and personal redemption. Consider this excerpt:

"Why did you keep playing? Why did you stay?

Because we are bound by duty. Because we aspire to greater things. Because we are loyal. Because, in our own secular way, we are celebrating communion, and resurrection, possibility."

This book is one of the underrated classics that captures the moment in time where all converges at once to remind us the greatness of the human spirit and that no matter what happens in our risings and fallings; redemption is there waiting for all who seek it.

Read and enjoy this one; there will be no regrets.
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on October 10, 2012
In his Prologue to this book on the longest game ever played in professional baseball, Dan Barry writes that one might ask the players why they kept playing, and one might ask the fans why they stayed. He believes that the players and fans would answer: "Because we are bound by duty. Because we aspire to greater things. Because we are loyal. In our own secular way, we are celebrating communion, and resurrection, and possibility." Barry then goes on to establish, early in the book, that to all concerned -- players, fans, umpires, officials and managers of all kinds and levels -- the game felt as if it would go on forever. The planting of that word "forever" is well done, because in the following three sections (Innings 1 to 9; Innings 10 to 21; Innings 22 to 32), Barry does a masterful job of making the reader also feel that the game will go on forever. This is an amazing feat considering that the book is only 250 pages long.

One of the ways the author establishes this feeling in the reader is by the division of sections. Logically speaking, one would expect Innings 1 to 9, followed by Innings 10-18, followed by Innings 19-27, and so on, each group of nine symbolizing one full baseball game. But in this cold, windy, almost isolated early-season game, the tying run is scored in the bottom of the ninth and then, in the top of the 21st, the go-ahead run is scored. But.

But in the bottom of the 21st, the tying run is scored again, and THAT is when the players, the fans, and yes, you, the reader, will feel a sense of doom: caught in the spiral of a game that is not played against a clock and that gives each side an equal number of chances -- a game that, in theory, could go on forever. You will feel this sense of doom in a good way, however, because history tells you that the game did end, so you know that resolution will arrive. Maybe also redemption.

Highly Recommended!
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on October 11, 2013
I read a lot of baseball books and this is one of the better ones. It's the story of the 1981 Triple A (minor league) game between Rochester and Pawtucket, which started on Easter Saturday, and, 8 hours later, at 4 am on Easter Sunday, was still going at the end of 32 innings, only to be finished several months later. It should've ended at 12:50 am, at the usual International League curfew which was inadvertently omitted from that year's set of rules. It was and, as far as I know, remains, organized baseball's longest game ever.

I picked it up to learn more about the then minor leaguers, Wade Boggs of Pawtucket and Cal Ripken of Rochester. The parts about the famous ballplayers were interesting but the parts of the book dealing with those who never made it were even more so.

An excellent book, one I'd recommend even to the nonbaseball fan. There's plenty about baseball, or course, but even more about life and its tragedies and disappointments.
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on January 23, 2013
Many would say, and they would be right, that baseball is a very tedious, slow and, sometimes, ponderous competition. This would be a characterization for "normal" nine inning games. The never ending minutia of statistics attached to seemeingly every facet of the game down to the number of seams in a baseball are recounted by ever droning play-by-play announcers.
So why does this "Longest Game" draw me in and never lets me off the hook, in fact, letting me have the line enough to create a sort of Stockholm Syndrome scenario rather than a victim?
This is the answer:The author is a mesmerizing writer. His details of the game, the players, the fans, the other personnel, the town of Pawtucket, the economy, the announcers, all form a sort of Greek Chorus almost relegating the 33 inning game to a footnote. I kept thinking that if the game had ended earlier, say in the 18th or 22nd inning, could he have had time to delve into some of the divergent storylines that he felt compelled to explore?
I grew up as a sandlot baseball nut in Passaic, New Jersey. Thanks to a priest who would climb the fence of our High School stadium and cajol the caretaker in the summer, a bunch of us ragamuffin altar boys and others from the neighborhood occasionally got to play a game on a regulation size field. One of my sisters brought me to an average of 10 games a year to Yankee Stadium. Spent the day there traveling back and forth by bus.
These were my roots, the glory days of the Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox.
Dan Barry was able to capture all and more of that long ago cult like devotion I had for the game but had long abandoned due to the crazy salaries, the prima donna machinations of players etc. One thing for sure, my dreams of becoming a professional ballplayer would have waned after reading about the sacrifices so many go thru to get to the top and then try to stay there.
Thanks to Dan Barry for helping me go back to before this game being played, back to the 40s and 50s.
Bought two more books to give to my sons both in their 40s now who unfortunately never shared my love for the game.I called them and asked if they would read the book because they woould know about the game and maybe more about their Dad.
Thank you Mr. Barry
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on June 2, 2011
Baseball is unique among professional sports simply because infinity is built into the rules - not only teasing us with the remote possibility of endlessness but suspending time for those who play, and watch. At 30, some players evolve into veterans but never really get old and simply fade with their skills, perhaps losing a step to everything but our memory.

This is both the genius of the sport and the genius of Dan Barry's Bottom of the 33rd who places that timeless ideal against the reality of the game, narrating a morality play that unfolds in the hard-scrabble heart of post industrial New England, pitting the soul of American Exceptionalism against the inevitability of failure as seen through the eyes of minor league strivers who never defy the million to one odds of reaching the majors.

33rd is a story of Easter and dead-end economics told not in the cathedrals of the Bronx or Lansdowne Street, but in the dilapidated, depression-era confines of Rhode Island's McCoy Stadium where on April 18th 1981, professional baseball's longest game would be played in relative obscurity between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings.

Contrary to the myth-building of most sports journalism, 33rd is not Fisk willing his ball fair in 1975 or Steve Bartman's near-death at the hands of Wrigley's snake-bitten rabble in 2003 - this beautifully written book is really about the "never and almost weres" of the grand-old game, always working on the wrong side of talent and obscurity - Rochester's immensely strong (but ungifted) Drungo Hazewood exhausted and freezing alongside Pawtucket's underachieving high-school phenom Dave Koza. Rochester's cup-of-coffee major leaguer Steve Grilli fighting off the realization that he's done and perhaps the most poignant of Barry's profiles, the self-immolation of PawSox slugger Sam Bowen who innocently voids his own trade to the Tigers (and a guaranteed trip to the the majors) through some very ill-timed truth telling.

Yes, Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs were participants however, their Hall of Fame futures are not a central theme, except perhaps as a punctuation to the disappointment of men who know they will never have the faintest glimpse of a major league career. By the time Boggs took his triumphant gallop across Yankee Stadium on the back of a police horse in 1996, all of his Pawtucket teammates were either galloping around the country driving delivery trucks or selling insurance.

Barry's book is ultimately about the blue-collar underbelly of baseball - prospects that use prayer and force of will to motivate 25 y/o vehicles to get them to every minor-league outpost between Elmira and Tidewater. It is the small stories that make 33rd so compelling - there's Bob Drew, Rochester's current, soon to be fired General Manager working the purgatory of play-by-play radio as punishment from disgruntled ownership - similar stories abound and unfold with the brilliance of a film noir masterpiece.

And of course there's Pawtucket. In 1981 groaning through the early stages of Reaganomics but still holding on to a fierce provincial pride that is found nowhere but New England.

Pawtucket is a city built on the waning fortunes of the textile industry and through the years has been subjected to every form of Tammany Hall exploitation. In fact, the very existence of McCoy Stadium is colorfully reviewed as Depression-era Mayor McCoy believes that a field built in the middle of an unstable swamp, replete with quicksand is a brilliant jobs program until material and trucks essential to the job start disappearing in the muck.

Maybe I liked the book so much because it reminded me of the public spiritedness of former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne who in the mid 1970s built the Meadowlands Sports Complex in a swamp, forced through a state income tax to pay for it and then, in a touching grace note, named it after himself. The state may have been broke but who cares about solvency when you can take in The New Jersey Generals, Disney On Ice and KISS in a single weekend.

Even if you are not a sports fan, Barry's elegant prose are engrossing, telling a story that reverberates far beyond a Rhode Island baseball diamond. An absolute must read!
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